International Inheritance Laws

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 Panamanian law is deeply rooted in Spanish legal traditions and Roman Law. The First Panamanian code was erected in 1917 at the time that Panama and other countries in Latin America broke away from the Spanish empire. Panamanian law has incorporated parts of Anglo- American law such as Habeas Corpus and Judicial Precedent.

Panamanian Inheritance Law is set forth in the Civil Code, Third Book, Titles I to V, Articles 628-938. These laws apply to foreigners and natives regardless of nationality, place where the deceased resided or religion. There are two ways to dispose of property in Panama, with a will and through the Intestacy laws set in the Civil Code. A testator, who makes a will in panama, either written or holographic, is free to dispose of his property as he wishes without being subjected to abide to the reserved portion.

In the event that a person dies intestate, Panamanian intestacy laws distribute the descedant’s estate by awarding their spouse a share equal to the one the issue would take. If the descedant has no issue, the spouse receives a share equal to the one the descedant’s parents would take. If there is no spouse, the issue receives the entire estate. All direct descendent’s of the deceased take per stirpes. If a child is deceased but has issue, the issue will have the right to inherit through representation of their parent and take the share that their parent would have taken. In the event that there are no Heirs or Successors or If there is no Last Will and Testament, The Deceased’s estate will es-cheat and pass on to the City Council (municipio) of the last place the deceased resided. The estate will not pass on to the government that controls the physical location of the deceased’s estate, it will go to the municipality where the person last resided.

Another way to dispose of one’s estate is through the usage of inter vivos (during life) gifts. The Panamanian Civil Code allows for a person to make an unlimited amount of gifts throughout their lifetime.

As of December 26, 2012 The Inheritance Tax (Impuesto Sobre Donaciones) in Panama has been abolished. This removes the prior standard of taking a percentage of a testator’s estate as a tax and giving it to the local municipality of where the testator used to reside.

Panamanian inheritance law is similar to New York inheritance law. It provides a way to dispose of an estate in the event that a person dies without a will.  In New York, there are no taxes imposed on a descedant’s estate from the government and holographic wills are only used by certain groups of people for a limited time. New york does not constitute holographic wills as a valid form of creating a permanent will for a person.